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Microgrids, major changes: Professor leading effort to redesign power grid

By District Energy posted 07-10-2019 09:17


Sarah Small, Penn State News


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — When Hurricane Sandy hit the eastern seaboard in 2012, entire city skylines went completely black with the curious exception of a few small areas still emitting light, thanks to their use of combined heat and power (CHP) systems, a key component to microgrids. Jim Freihaut, professor of architectural engineering in the Penn State College of Engineering, sees these microgrids not as exceptions but as the norm of the future.

Freihaut, who also serves as the director of the Department of Energy Mid-Atlantic Combined Heat and Power Center and as a recently named Energy 2100 Fellow, is leading an interdisciplinary effort to redesign our nation’s power grid to better meet the energy and economic needs of the future. He conducts much of his research at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia.

“These extreme weather events are going to keep getting worse and worse, and cyberattacks will become more and more of a threat, so we ought to break up the central grid into a combination of a central grid and a bunch of microgrids that can really operate independently from the macrogrid,” Freihaut said.

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